Extreme heat scorches Yellowknife's all-time temperature record

Digital WritersThe Weather Network
Digital Writers

The capital of the Northwest Territories logged its hottest-ever day on Monday, Aug. 2, edging out the previous record by a hair.

Yellowknife, N.W.T., recorded its hottest-ever day on Monday.

The capital city of the Northwest Territories measured a high temperature of 32.6°C on Aug. 2, 2021, eking out a new place in the records. The previous all-time high temperature for the city was a 32.5°C reading on July 16, 1989.

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Communities in the North experience quite the temperature swing throughout the year. Even though it gets bitterly cold during the long dark of a cold winter, conditions warm up during the peak of the summer. A seasonal high temperature for Yellowknife at the beginning of August is about 20°C.

Even so, a 32.6°C reading is low compared to other all-time record highs across the country, and even other communities across the territories.

Yellowknife, N.W.T. record

"It's all about the pattern," said Kevin MacKay, a meteorologist at The Weather Network. "To get the heat this far north, you need everything working together."

The highest temperature ever recorded in the Northwest Territories was a 39.9°C reading set in the Fort Smith area during the historic late-June heat wave that roasted Western Canada. That same heat wave produced the 49.6°C reading in Lytton, B.C, which now holds the national high-temperature record.

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Yellowknife’s notably low all-time temperature is the product of its location. The city sits on the northern shores of Great Slave Lake. The relatively cold water of the large and deep lake keeps nearby air temperatures lower than other areas farther away from its influence.

"What we had over the last few days was a Goldilocks situation. We had the synoptic warmth because the high [pressure] was right around the 60th parallel, you had some downsloping from the mountains and the wind direction was perfect to avoid Great Slave Lake," said MacKay.

Monday’s heat record came amid a heat wave that covered much of Western Canada from the Yukon south through the U.S. Northwest. Heat warnings stretched deep into the heart of the territories this weekend for daytime highs that climbed into the low 30s.

The extreme heat exacerbated the wildfire situation in the territories, where CBC North reported that 69 fires were burning in Yukon Territory as of Monday, Aug. 2.

Thumbnail courtesy of Patsy Larocque, taken in Yellowknife, N.W.T.